18 December 2014 - Indicators Pointing to a Busier 2015 for Family Lawyers
Click image below to view full article
15 December 2014 - AGS to consolidate within the Attorney-General’s Department
Statement by AGS CEO:
The Government has decided that AGS will be consolidated within the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) and no longer operate as a government business enterprise. AGD and AGS are working closely with a view to the consolidation occurring on 1 July 2015.
This decision will not impact on the service AGS provides to its clients. AGS will continue to have its own independent functional identity within AGD. The expertise and experience of our lawyers will continue to be available to serve you with the professionalism you have come to expect.
We value your continued support in this interim period and will be continuing to operate without changes to our personnel or service delivery.
Ian Govey, Chief Executive Officer
15 December 2014 - ILH Shares in Voluntary Suspension During New Negotiations with Bank
ILH is the listed entity of law firm Rockwell Olivier
At the time of the trading halt on the ASX last week, ILH shares were at a historical low point of 1.9 cents per share. The original shares were issued in August 2007 at 50 cents per share.
During 2013 the company acquired a financial planning business, paying for it with a combination of ILH shares (9 cents per share) as well as $4.51 million in cash. During financial year 2014 the legal services business was the main contributor to a heavy financial loss for the year.
By 30 June 2014 ILH’s bank debt was up to $14.4 million. This amount represented roughly 50% of the 2013/14 annual revenue of the business.
A new financing / repayment arrangement with the bank was announced in September 2014. Now the company has obtained agreement by the bank to defer a $250K payment that was due in December. ILH expects to make a further announcement by the end of this week.
In the first week of December 2014 the long term managing director of ILH resigned and the company appointed a corporate advisory firm to assist with strategic planning.
14 December 2014 - Australian Government Solicitor to Close
The news was leaked over the weekend:
The Weekend Australian can reveal the 175 agencies to be cut include the Australian Government Solicitor as well as obscure committees such as a “governance board” on computer systems and a “partnership group” on student services. While the AGS had been seen as a potential asset sale, the government will instead close it down and transfer some of its staff to the Attorney-General’s Department in order to scale back overall spending.
Legal Practice Intelligence commentary from 19 November 2014
10 December 2014 - Volume of Property Sales in 2015
8 December 2014 - Corrs disrupts its own BigLaw business model with a contract lawyer service
4 December 2014 - Lawson Smith Lawyers Join HWL Ebsworth
4 December 2014 - Cridlands MB will Join HWL Ebsworth to Form the Firm's new Darwin and Alice Springs offices
3 December 2014 - Productivity Commission Recommends Contingency Fees and Limited Opening of Family Law to Non-Lawyers
1 December 2014 - Exemplary Marketing of a Criminal Law Practice
28 November 2014 - In a Globalised World, Local GCs are Losing the Autonomy to Choose Law Firms
26 November 2014 - E-Conveyancing: First Full Transfer, Lodgment and Financial Settlement
25 November 2014 - Justice Connect moves into Fair Work support for unrepresented litigants
19 November 2014 - Closing Australian Government Solicitor will not help Federal Government Fiscal Deficit
18 November 2014 - S & G Looks to Expand in Canada
14 November 2014 - Galilee Solicitors Wins Bragging Rights for First NSW E-Caveat
13 November 2014 - Top 20 Private Law Firms Partnering with Legal Aid NSW
10 November 2014 - E-Conveyancing Sceptics Proved Wrong Today
click above image to read more
7 November 2014 - Macquarie Secures 25% of PEXA Shares
According to recent AFR reporting, Macquarie Capital has become a 25% shareholder of PEXA which is the maximum ownership limit for any single shareholder.
Western Australia Government’s Landgate owns 16%. Other shareholders include the four major banks, Link Market Services (Pacific Equity Partners), Paul Little (Little Group) and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
$50-$60 million of the capital raised has gone into building the PEXA platform.
GlobalX Legal Solutions CEO Peter Maloney said the company was looking forward to its customers being able to fully access the Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) in NSW from November 10.
Mr Maloney says that the Brisbane based company is Australia’s largest property settlement provider to the practitioner market.
"We have been preparing and investing significantly in our technology, people and industry partnerships, to ensure we have a competitive advantage in delivering PEXA to all our clients and solutions partners,” Mr Maloney said.
“We are thrilled to be able to deliver PEXA to GlobalX’s practitioners who currently utilise the company’s online search, conveyancing and practice management software solutions.
“We are very pleased to have agreements in place to deliver access to PEXA to the broader practitioner market via our strategic partners and their software solutions.”
6 November 2014 - Blue Rock Law Joins M+K Lawyers
Headed by Principals George Haros and Alex Ninis, Blue Rock Law focuses on IT, workplace relations, property, litigation and commercial law.
“George and Alex have done a wonderful job in a tough market to grow their firm since founding it only five years ago,” comments Damian Paul, National M+K Managing Director. “Their focus on mid-market businesses aligns perfectly with ours. This union creates enormous opportunity to introduce, on the one hand, their clients to the wider skill sets within M+K and, on the other, their specialist skill sets to the M+K client base.”
A team of eight lawyers and three support staff [based in Melbourne] will accompany George and Alex, with two team members based in Perth.
“Blue Rock Law is excited by this opportunity,” says Alex Ninis. “We feel there is a real synergy between M+K and Blue Rock Law of a vision to use our industry knowledge to truly understand our client’s business, and then to provide them with a practical and commercial legal service.
“As Blue Rock Law strives to keep ahead of the curve and meet the ever changing need of our clients, teaming up with M+K will allow for greater operating efficiency, solidify our presence nationally, and deliver all-round better value for our clients,” concludes George Haros.
M+K Lawyers has 350 staff with offices in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland and Perth.
6 November 2014 - Tim's Story
... and "Besties" from Shine Lawyers
3 November 2014 - Kemp Strang Opens Office in Brisbane
Commercial law firm Kemp Strang today opened the doors to its Brisbane office. It comes only nine months after announcing it would open a Melbourne office and the firm now has offices across the eastern seaboard in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Kemp Strang provides high quality legal services to clients across a wide range of industries with particular strengths in banking & finance, dispute resolution & insolvency and corporate advisory.
The Brisbane office is headed by partners Glen Williams and Paul Wong, both from Kemp Strang’s former Brisbane affiliate law firm, Thynne & Macartney.
Said Kemp Strang managing partner, Michael Joseph: “This is the next step in our business strategy of providing a national service to our clients under the Kemp Strang banner.”
Mr Williams is an insolvency specialist and has over 20 years’ experience providing expert services in dispute resolution to banks, financial institutions and commercial enterprises. Mr Wong has 15 years’ experience in banking and finance specialising in transactional banking and finance. He also acts for Banks and insolvency practitioners in the realisation of assets. They are supported by a highly experienced team of lawyers and paralegals.
30 October 2014 - Hunt & Hunt Lawyers and Nicholsons Solicitors Announce Affiliation
From 1 November 2014, the national Hunt & Hunt Legal Group will add Brisbane-based Nicholsons Solicitors into its national network, extending the range of services to clients across practice and geographical boundaries.
Hunt & Hunt’s General Manager, Steve Sampson says Nicholsons are a natural fit with Hunt & Hunt's way of doing business. They have unique local knowledge and significant experience in the Queensland market.
30 October 2014 - Litigation Funding Delivers $38m in Three Months to Bentham IMF
click image to read article (website screenshot)
28 October 2014 - Clyde & Co Opens in Brisbane
27 October 2014 - Migration Advice Market Tightens
The increase in the number of registered migrations agents is in contrast to an almost flat migration program.
At 30 June 2014 there were 5,212 registered migration agents. This represents an increase of 11.3% or 528 Agents over the past two years.
In the same period, migration has increased by around 2.7%. The migration program for the current year is budgeted to be at the same level as last year.
The number of Agents with legal practising certificates at 30 June 2014 was 1,673 being 32.1% of all Agents. This percentage has been decreasing slightly. An increasing proportion of new Agents are non-lawyers.
62% of all Agents have been in the Migration Advice Industry for six years or less. [sources: Department of Immigration; MARA statistics]
Left Axis: Australian Migration Program. Right Axis: Percentage being Skill Program as opposed to Family
23 October 2014 - Shine Lawyers Acquires Sciaccas PI and Family Law Practices
Shine Corporate Ltd (Shine) has acquired Sciaccas Lawyers Pty Ltd and Sciaccas Family Lawyers Pty Ltd. Initial consideration will be $8.75 million with deferred consideration subject to earn-outs linked to ongoing and increased financial performance of the acquired entities.
Sciaccas' founder, Con Sciacca, former federal government minister, has agreed to enter into an employment contract with Shine as a condition of the acquisition and will continue in the business following completion.
Based on initial consideration of $8.75 million, this equates to 4 to 5 times of the estimated FY15 EBITDA, with similar multiples maintained on the payment of deferred consideration for growth in earnings through the earn-out period. The acquisition will be funded from Shine's existing cash and debt facilities and is expected to be earnings per share accretive in FY2015. The acquisition is expected to be fully completed by the end of October 2014, but will contribute to Shine's earnings from 1 July 2014, being the date the share transfer will take effect.
Shine Managing Director, Simon Morrison said, "this acquisition is an excellent opportunity to leverage Sciaccas' excellent and long standing relationships with both key clients and industry groups alike. This acquisition is consistent with our 'inch wide, mile deep' focus on damages based plaintiff litigation, with Sciaccas complementing Shine's existing personal injury businesses and providing access to additional channels to market".
22 October 2014 - Some Positive News from ILH Group
ILH Group (holding company of law firm Rockwell Olivier) has announced that its first quarter (2014/15) has been cash flow positive. Operating Revenue for the quarter was $8.078 million with EBITDA of $868,000.
In 2013/14 the company produced a loss. The EBITDA announced today represents a margin of 10.7% on Operating Revenue. For the full year 2012/13 EBITDA was around 7.6%.
In contrast, Slater & Gordon is planning to achieve an EBITDA margin of between 23%-24% in 2014/15.
The interest bill for ILH Group has roughly doubled since 2012/13 and was about $1.1 million in 2013/14. The Western Australia legal practice continues to face challenges with the reported loss of a key workplace relations lawyer to a rival WA firm.
The ILH share price is currently near its all time low of under 3 cents per share.
22 October 2014 - Demand for Employed Solicitors on the Rise
Figures released today by the Department of Employment show a rise of 14% for solicitor employment advertisement numbers compared to 12 months ago (Internet Vacancy Index).
The increase for all jobs across the economy is 11.9%.
The current number of solicitor job advertisements is still 18% below the level of September 2012.
Seek has been the number one online jobs board in Australia but is facing a major new competitor. What used to be mycareer.com.au has now become Adzuna.com.au. Adzuna also searches and aggregates job advertisements.
As at today, Seek has 2,552 job advertisements for lawyers or solicitors and Adzuna has 2,143. A significant proportion of employers are likely to be posting the same jobs at multiple sites simultaneously. The advertised pricing for Adzuna is less than one quarter of Seek’s pricing.
20 October 2014 - Truman Hoyle to Become Part of Bird & Bird
Bird & Bird is an international firm with 1,100 lawyers in 26 offices.
20 October 2014 - E-Conveyancing Prices Released
The use of the e-conveyancing platform (PEXA) will be on a pay-per-transaction basis. There are no membership or subscription fees. Click the price list below to view an example of the costing of a transaction as well as pricing FAQs.
16 October 2014 - LawCorner Launches: Connecting Prospective Clients with Lawyers
13 October 2014 - More Self-Help Videos for Self-Represented Court Users
Read background report here
11 October 2014 - Divorce Hotel May Come to Australia
9 October 2014 - Victoria Conveyancing Activity Sinks
In May, June and July Victoria property sales volumes were going through the roof.
Despite Victoria having a population that is around 30% less than NSW, the volume of Victoria's property transfers in July 2014 was higher than in NSW – albeit by a small margin.
The buoyant sales activity came to an abrupt halt in August. Statistics show that property transfers were 4% lower in August 2014 than August 2013.
June and July 2014 were both 21% higher than the equivalent months of 2013. August 2014 was 4% lower than August 2013.
Why the sharp turnaround? According to RP Data’s index, Melbourne home values declined by 0.84% over September 2014. We have consistently observed that sales volumes and prices move in the same direction.
NSW property transfers are up by 8% this year for August and September combined compared to the equivalent months of 2013. Queensland is up 11% for the eight weeks to 20 September 2014 compared to the equivalent period of 2013. Home values in Sydney and Brisbane continued to increase over September 2014.
7 October 2014 - Will Sparke Helmore's Partnership Agree to a Public Listing?
According to a report in The Australian, the Partnership of Sparke Helmore is considering listing the firm on the ASX.
This report coincides with another major professional services business (Crowe Horwath) likely to make an exit from the ASX as it is in the process of being sold to a non-listed entity.
It is unlikely that anyone will want to buy Sparke Helmore shares if its share price performance follows the same pattern as the shares of Crowe Horwath, ILH Group or some of the professional services firms operating in the recruitment sector.
The timing may well be right for a high-end professional services business to list, having learned the lessons from those who went before them.
7 October 2014 - The System Disrupting Itself: Disruptive Innovation in the Legal Services Market
3 October 2014 - 850 Delegates to Attend Family Law Conference
30 September 2014 - Taking parental leave is a career ‘kiss of death’ for women in law firms
30 September 2014 - Donaldson Walsh Lawyers and Fox Tucker to Form DW Fox Tucker
From 1 October 2014 the two South Australian firms will join and become DW Fox Tucker.
Donaldson Walsh Lawyers stated:
“We’ll be large enough, with a total team of just over 80 people, to handle a higher volume of work and multiple larger projects, yet remain small enough to deliver personal service and value-for-money for each and every client.
“Our only tinge of sadness about the move is that our long-term home at Kings Chambers can’t quite fit the whole DW Fox Tucker team in. So we’ll be moving just up the road to 100 King William Street to share Fox Tucker’s current offices.”
Read more at Adelaide Now where it refers to "Adelaide's shrinking legal services market" as well as the redundancies that will follow from the merger.
24 September 2014 - Law Central to provide a suite of documents for use by the SME customers of a leading Australian bank
22 September 2014 - Victoria Legal Aid Has Sacrificed Private Practitioner Services to Boost Balance Sheet
19 September 2014 - Recognition for Legal Industry Innovators
17 September 2014 - Slater & Gordon Expands in Western Sydney with Acquitisition
15 September 2014 - How Your Next Job Will Find You
About 12 months ago LinkedIn reached 5 million Australian members. When it reaches 6 million, this will be almost half the Australian workforce, including the employed and unemployed.
LinkedIn offers a job posting service. Over the last 12 months, the number of jobs posted on LinkedIn for lawyers in Australia increased four-fold. Although this sound like impressive growth, it is still less than 300 job postings at present. By comparison, Seek has more than 2,000 job advertisements for lawyers.
In the video presentation below, the CEO of LinkedIn restates one of the goals of the company: to be a resource for finding candidates who are not actively looking for a job but might consider an opportunity. Called passive candidates, this group has been estimated to be 80-90% of the workforce.
According to LinkedIn's CEO, it is not just about LinkedIn members finding the right jobs. It is increasingly going to be about the right jobs finding members.
watch video on YouTube
10 September 2014 - Employment Demand Continues to Increase
Job vacancy statistics can be viewed as an indicator of the demand for employees. Since the beginning of 2011 the trend has been unmistakably downward. This culminated in a jobs shakeout, especially in larger law firms, during 2012/13.
The demand for employed solicitors is currently on the rise. However it has a long way to go to recover to levels of only four years ago.
Charts: Internet job vacancies using data from from Australian Government Department of Employment
5 September 2014 - Stress on Victorian families likely to escalate if wills laws proceed
4 September 2014 - Law Council welcomes Law Society of WA recommendation to adopt Legal Profession Uniform Law
3 September 2014 - Assessing the Impact of the Increasing Number of Solicitors
Source: Law Society of NSW statistics
The latest statistics from the Law Society of NSW show that the number of solicitors has increased by 20% over the past five years. The increase over the past year, at 4%, has been in line with the five year trend.
How can a 20% increase in the number of solicitors be interpreted?
The population of Australia increased by 8% between December 2008 and December 2013. However, a better indicator is the change in the size of the economy. Real GDP increased by 14% over the five years to March 2014. Some areas of practice have grown by more than that rate of growth. One example is property/conveyancing over the past twelve months.
The number of suburban solicitors has been growing at more than twice the rate of city solicitors. Other notable trends are the increase in corporate in-house numbers and the increase in the number of sole practitioner firms.
1 September 2014 - 31% Deterioration in Legal Services Fee Income for ILH Group – Rockwell Olivier
Rockwell Olivier is the law firm core business of ASX listed ILH Group. In the six months to June 2014, Legal Services Fee Income was 31% lower than the same period last year (2H FY13). The severity of the result has been attributed to the exit of key fee-earning lawyers from the Perth practice.
For the whole year 2013/14, the decline in revenue (from ordinary activities) was 13% to $27.5 million. ILH Group reported a loss of $6.6m before tax (from continuing operations).
During 2013/14 ILH Group diversified into financial services (wealth management). In the year, revenue from this business represented 11.7% of the company’s total annual revenue.
The combination of the year's financial loss and funds used for acquisitions has left ILH with an increase of $11 million in total liabilities. At 30 June 2014, total liabilities were $25.6 million which represented 93% of the value of fee revenue for the year. Tangible assets of the group were $17 million of which $2.78 million was an investment in an associate that produced a return of $124,289 during the year.
28 August 2014 - Emerging Practice Areas Boost Shine's Financial Results
Revenue from Emerging Practice Areas grew by $5.8 million in FY 14, from $12.2 million to $18.0 million. Total revenue growth for the whole company was $10.3m. Therefore, traditional areas of work such as personal injury had dollar value growth that was less than the much smaller Emerging Areas business.
Shine Lawyers classifies its Emerging Areas to include Product liability, Professional negligence, Environmental, Disability insurance and superannuation, Class actions, First party insurance, Landowners rights, Aviation, Asbestos and Human rights.
In FY14, Shine Lawyers increased revenue by 10% compared to FY13 while expenses increased by 5%, contributing to a boost in profitability.
27 August 2014 - Contingency Fees: Access to Justice, Access to Profit
26 August 2014 - What Range of Billing and Pricing Options Does your Firm Offer? - Opinion by John Chisholm
"I know the death throes of time based billing in firms are significant with some clockroaches now finding even more ways to track their time via mobile apps & the like just in case they miss out on some time while driving, flying, eating and in those little intimate moments (clients must be deliriously happy with this as they have always felt their law firms have never been able to “capture” enough time!), yet the smart debate has really moved on from do I continue to only time base bill? to two much more salient questions:
1. what range of billing and pricing options do we offer? and
2. do we still keep recording time?"
Read more at chrisconsult.com
22 August 2014 - Bentham IMF Litigation Funder's Financial Results Hit by Bank of Queensland Case
Financial year 2013/14 gross income from cases was up 73% compared to FY2013 but the Bank of Queensland case contributed to a profit result that was lower than FY2013.
21 August 2014 - Queensland Conveyancing on the Up
The top chart shows the volume of property transfers over a three month period (May-July) for each of the past eight years. The bottom chart (from RP Data) shows annual changes in dwelling values. There is usually a correlation between the direction of property prices and the volume of conveyancing. This is evident from the charts below, except during 2009, when conveyancing continued downwards even though prices moved up. The Queensland real estate and conveyancing industry looked like it was heading for shutdown by 2011 but then it turned the corner and has been on the up ever since.
Annual change in dwelling values
19 August 2014 - Law Firm Brand Leaders in the Asia Pacific
The following Index ranks the strongest international law firm brands in Asia Pacific according to a survey of general counsel in $50m+ revenue companies with legal needs in the region. The leading brands are King & Wood Mallesons and Baker & McKenzie - joint first place. Minter Ellison tops the list of non-global Australian firms.
Click the table below to read further commentary at the Acritas website
12 August 2014 - Slater & Gordon to Acquire Two Australian Law Firms
11 August 2014 - Conveyancing Volumes in Victoria Go Through the Roof
You would expect that property sales volumes in each State of Australia would be in proportion to the population of each state.
Despite Victoria having a population that is around 30% less than NSW, the volume of Victoria's property transfers in July 2014 was higher than in NSW – albeit by a small margin.
For May to July 2014, Victoria property transfer volumes were 20% higher than the equivalent months of the previous year.
According to RP Data, dwelling prices in Melbourne are 11% higher than 12 months ago. Since the beginning of 2009 they have increased by 45%.
Sydney dwelling values have increased by 47% since the beginning of 2009. For May to July 2014, NSW property transfer volumes were 9% higher than the equivalent months of the previous year.
Sydney and Melbourne have experienced similar dwelling value increases over five years. However, over the same period, Melbourne has had far more price and volume volatility than Sydney.
Dwelling prices movements for Sydney and Melbourne are shown below (source: RP Data)
5 August 2014 - Breakaways Show the Way
4 August 2014 - ILH Group Prepares Market for Bad News Ahead of Annual Results
4 August 2014 - Slater & Gordon Acquires a Firm in WA
1 August 2014 - Highlights of the 2014 Mahlab Report
[Analysis of the report by Legal Practice Intelligence]
The 2014 Mahlab Report, just released, reports on lawyer remuneration and job satisfaction in the Australian legal market. The report is based on a survey which is supplemented by Mahlab’s in-depth understanding of the market as well as information gathered from its clients and candidates throughout the year.
The survey shows that 63% of lawyers in private practice were satisfied in their current role yet 47% considered leaving their role. Therefore some lawyers considered moving on even though they were satisfied in their current position. The statistical results imply that 10% of all lawyers are in this category. For this group, moving on is likely to be motivated by ambition and opportunity rather than dissatisfaction.
The survey’s focus is on lawyers who work in CBD firms providing services to corporate Australia. Private practice growth areas reported by the survey were Property, Construction, Banking & Finance, Corporate and Employment Law.
The report highlights some further trends:
- Contract corporate lawyers increasingly provide resourcing solutions
- The size of equity partnerships are on a downward trend
- New employment models are addressing a “bottleneck” of lawyers below partner level and
- Technology is being embraced to provide remote working and flexible work arrangements
The survey findings give an impression of an increasingly competitive market for employment in law firms but one which still continues to offer lawyers the financial rewards.
The 2014 Mahlab Private Practice Report (PDF) can be downloaded here
30 July 2014 - Challenges in the Legal Landscape
25 July 2014 M&A Boom Doesn't Always Mean Legal Fees Boom
If video does not display try this external link
23 July 2014 - Interview with Jim's Conveyancing Divisional Franchisor
click image below to read more
21 July 2014 - One Year Anniversary for Conveyancing Franchise
Jim’s Conveyancing was launched 12 months ago in Victoria. At the time it had expansion plans for 2014 that included franchising in other states.
Jim’s Group franchising covers more than 30 different services with an estimated annual revenue of more than $300 million. "Jim’s" is a brand that is probably more widely known than any name currently operating in the legal market.
Jim’s Conveyancing franchises are being offered for $38,800 plus GST.
Conveyancing franchising outside of Victoria has not been rolled out. The impact of Jim’s in the Victorian market appears to have been more of a ripple than a wave - so far.
Although the conveyancing division appears to have had a slow start, Jim’s Group, with its name recognition, hundreds of thousands of customers and a track record of business success, should probably not be underestimated.
16 July 2014 - Law Firm Employment Turning the Corner
14 July 2014 - Shine Lawyers Quietly Enters Market for Wills, Estates and Family Law
Shine Lawyers is offering Will Preparation, Estate Administration and Contested Wills services to Queensland, NSW, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and NT.
Family law practitioners are located in Dalby and Toowoomba, Queensland.
There has been no ASX announcement about broadening its offering of private legal services.
Since listing on the ASX in May 2013 Shine Lawyers has consistently communicated a strategy of “inch wide – mile deep” referring to the range of services it offers. Diversification from personal injury work has been in what the company calls emerging practice areas. It lists these as: Product Liability, Professional Negligence, Environmental, Disability Insurance and Superannuation, Class Actions, First Party Insurance, Landowners Rights, Aviation, Asbestos and Human rights.
In June 2013 the company restated its focus on damages based litigation, identifying Wills as an example of an area of law that it would not be diversifying into.
Screen shot showing promotion of Wills and Estates Law
7 July 2014 - Divorces: State by State Numbers and Per Capita Rates
click table below for full article
3 July 2014 - If Millennials took over your law firm, it might look like this
Click below to read full article
1 July 2014 - Community Legal Centres Welcome One-Off Grants but Object to Restrictions on Activities
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